Kansas City Clinches AL Central for First Time Since 1985
The Kansas City Royals clinched the American League Central on Thursday for their first AL Central title since 1985. The title ended the longest active drought of MLB seasons without a division title.
The Royals hope to find their way back to the World Series where they played last season, but it is important to see how they have reached their AL Central title.
Kansas City is hitting for average and limiting their number of strikeouts, as they have for some time, but their power is up in almost every category.
In 2014, the Royals hit 95 home runs, which was the fewest in all of baseball, this season they have 130 with 11 games to play.
Kendrys Morales the DH is the main reason for the power surge. The DH was signed by the Royals after having a poor season in 2014 with Seattle.
Lorenzo Cain an outfielder has added power. He has 11 more home runs than last season and upped his slugging percentage 70 points
Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland made up a great trio in 2014 as they were No. 5 in the AL in ERA for bullpens with 3.30. This season the team’s bullpen ERA is down to just 2.70 making Kansas City the only team in the AL with an ERA less than 3.00.
Holland will not play the rest of this season due to an injured elbow and the loss will be big, but others have done well in the bullpen for Kansas City.
The starting pitching could be the biggest problem the Royals have to returning to this year’s World Series.
The club is No. 24 in ERA for starting pitchers this season and No. 27 during September.
Johnny Cueto was picked up before the trade deadline with the idea of taking over as the Royals ace. However, his transition from the NL has been rough.
Cueto had an ERA in Cincinnati of 2.62 with a 23% strikeout rate. Since his arrival in late July, his ERA is 4.99 and his strikeout rate is down to 17%.
The Royals have owned first place in the AL Central since June 9 and gradually pulled away from the upstart Minnesota Twins.
The Royals are the first AL team to clinch a playoff spot and the first MLB team to clinch a division title. That should help them become more focused on winning the AL Pennant and reaching their second consecutive World Series in 2015.